George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General William Heath, 1 November 1779

To Major General William Heath

Head Quarters West point 1st Novemr 1779

Dear Sir

I have your favr of yesterday. I am sorry to hear of Colo. Russells death of whose indisposition I had not known.

Lt Colo. Shearmans right to promotion to the Rank of Lt Colo. Commandant in consequence, must be reported to the State of Connecticut by the Brigadiers of that line agreeable to the terms of the late general order, as must also the names of the subalterns of the 8th Regt intitled to promotion in consequence of Colo. Russells death. The State will signify their approbation to the Board of War, who will issue Commissions accordingly. Then, and not before, Colo. Shearman will assume his new command.1

I have this day issued a general order which will in future prevent sending Men from the Infantry and retaining their Arms.2

I have Capt. Cartwrights affair under consideration and will give you my opinion on the subject the moment I come to a determination.3 I am Dear Sir Your most o[bedien]t Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. Where Men of the same State, not inlisted for the War, chuse to engage for that term on condition of changing their Regiments, it has been invariably allowed.

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

GW wrote another letter to Heath on this date: “Those persons who have permission from Govr Clinton may have liberty to go into New York, but none others” (LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, MHi: Heath Papers). The people seeking permission have not been identified, but for applications to New York governor George Clinton at this period, see Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers, description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends 5:349–51, 355, 361, 370–72, 387.

1For these promotion procedures, see the general orders for 20 August. Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., and the Council of Safety met at Lebanon on 24 Nov., considered Lt. Col. Isaac Sherman’s request for promotion, and “wrote Genl Washington” to recommend Sherman’s “promotion to the lieutenant colone[l]cy and command of the 8 Regt. in the Connecticut Line in the continental army” to replace the recently deceased Col. Giles Russell. The governor and council also recommended that Lt. Col. Joseph Hait take over the 2d Connecticut Regiment, Sherman’s former command (Conn. Public Records, description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894–. description ends 2:442). No letter from these Connecticut officials to GW on this subject has been found, but see GW to Trumbull, 8 December.

2An unidentified communication from Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons enclosed with Heath’s letter to GW of 31 Oct. likely raised this issue.

3The rank of Heath’s aide-de-camp Thomas Cartwright remained unresolved until 2 March 1780 (see Heath to GW, 27 Oct., and notes 2 and 6 to that document).

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